convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #127


It was early morning, before work, when I climbed into the Lyft. Winding our way through Cambridge, Somerville, and Watertown, he told me about being accepted into Berkeley music school, his upcoming audition, “going ham” on learning piano, his DJ gigs and 3,000 songs needed as a minimum, working on airplanes as “clean and secure” personnel, flying standby, aerospace engineering not being creative and instead too much rigidity, publishing, resume building, geography, and the best route to get to the doctor’s office.

I was nervous about my upcoming appointment so I was happy to let him ramble on, but my anxiety pinged as I heard his own blare through.

“Why would they accept me when there are so many other people who can play better?” he said.

“Because the music industry needs all types of musicians. There’s room for you all.” I said.

As we pulled up to the doctor’s office, he thanked me for my optimism and I thanked him for the ride.


how to do real estate

(1) go to a “first time home buyer’s course.”

(2) determine paltry budget.

(3) get preapproved for a mortgage.

(3) obtain real estate agent.

(4) see condos. lots and lots and lots of condos. little ones, tiny ones, medium ones, itty bitty ones.

(5) fall in love with one.

(6) make an offer.

(7) be the fourth best offer out of fourteen.

(8) despair.

(9) go to more open houses upon open houses upon open houses.

(10) get lost driving to open houses.

(11) start to recognize neighborhoods.

(12) cringe every time someone asks how the search is going and you have nothing to report other than three failed offers.

(13) go to more open houses.

(14) receive advice from parents.

(15) narrow search.

(16) hey, how about going to some open houses?

(17) realize some sort of compromise is going to have to be made.

(18) drag feet at the thought of a compromise.

(19) expand search.

(20) go to some open houses of places you really can’t afford.

(19) cry.

(20) make some appointments to view some condos.

(21) gather advice from friends who know more than you. drag some of said friends to open houses with you.

(22) realize you’ve totally neglected your current rental in the hopes of having a fresh, new space to call home. clean.

(23) fall further in love with current location and current neighborhood.

(24) continue to despise lackadaisical landlords and crappy, falling down apartment.

(25) curse your luck at looking for a place to buy in an assuredly seller’s market.

(26) crunch numbers again.

(27) get re-preapproved for mortgage.

(28) buy lottery ticket.

(29) go to more open houses.

(30) receive text message from your godmother who thought of you because HGTV had a boston-centric episode.

(31) smile.

(32) rinse.

(33) repeat.


secret santa

giving gifts is not something i take lightly. in fact, it’s quite an exhausting endeavor because in order for me to give a gift, it has to be good. it has to be meaningful. it has to make sense for the receiver. no generic stuff here. and so, yes, i find christmas to be a bit overwhelming with all the gifts i have to give at once, which is why i usually start planning what gifts i’ll give in october. that way i don’t have to rush and i can give each person not only the right gift, but a proper amount of time to figure out what said gift should be.

i’m in charge of organizing the sibling secret santa and doing so now means i’m just like all those major retailers who start decorating their stores mid-october. hopefully in a less annoying and bling-ed out manner. pumpkins and elves. the mash-up of holidays. family interlaced throughout. always family. always love. always laughter. always lucky.

i’m too liberal with my comma use. i use them to imply pauses, breaths taken. screw grammar. i’m living life on my own terms.


thank you notes

this arrived in the mail the other day:

MMM thank you

and it’s the coolest thing ever for so many reasons.

(1) my niece signed her name as MMM. we (me + my family members) often use her initials when texting and emailing because it’s faster and shorter than typing her full name, but the fact she’s now using it as her signature? so cool! so grown up!

(2) the excess of O’s in the word so remind me that’s she’s 11 and i don’t have to worry about her being tooooooooooooo grown up.

(3) she finished a book in a week!

(4) her brother is bugging her to read faster so he has something to read.

(5) she lets her brother’s desires motivate and monitor her own habits, which shows what an amazing and gentle and sensitive big sister she is.

(6) they’re like me, in that, as a friend recently said about me to me, “you eat books for breakfast.”

(7) the letter was also the envelope, aka, it was a complicated and fancy folding job by MMM.

(8) handwritten thank you notes are one of my favorite things in the world (to write and to receive) and SILM and brother G have trained their kids well. in fact, i still have a postcard from when MMM was about 6 hanging on my fridge because her misspellings created the funniest note ever.

(9) i can feel the love all the way from the west coast.


your voice

a writer friend once told me about a poem she teaches to her creative writing classes. i’m usually not much for poetry, but it stuck with me then and is still with me now.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

“and there was a new voice/which you slowly/recognized as your own.” GAH. those words. so amazing.

i originally wanted this post to be about that because it is those words i am aiming for — to hear and recognize and utilize my own voice both while speaking and writing, but then i realized i’m in a self-imposed writing break as i try to figure myself out, so this post can’t be about that.

then, it hit me.

those words are also relevant for college grads (yay, mina!) who are now finished with their degrees and are headed out into the big, bad world. they’ve spent four (or five or six or two) years researching and reading and listening and watching and living and learning and doing all with the goal in mind of finding their voice.  some may have discovered it, but can’t hear it over the reverberations of expectations. some may have figured it out years ago and followed it to this exact point. some may be afraid of it. some may be proud of it. some may think it’s in another language. some may be.

some may need more time. some may find it in writing, some in mathematics, some in motherhood, some in underwater basket weaving, some in athletics, some in more school, some in cooking, some in teaching, some in whittling, some in engineering, some in music, some in luxury, some in combat, some in foreign lands, some at home.

some may call it a conscience. some may call it attitude. some may call it confidence. some may call it id or ego. whatever it’s called and whatever it is and wherever and whenever you find it, i hope you embrace it. we can’t wait to hear you.